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Panasonic VariCam Creates Perfect Aesthetic For Ricky Gervais Netflix Series

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Panasonic's VariCam range has been deployed on Ricky Gervais' new Netflix Original series, 'After Life', to help create the perfect aesthetic.

The dark comedy, created, written, and directed by Gervais, follows the story of Tony (Gervais) as he mourns the loss of his deceased wife, and considers living long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. However, as the series develops, it also explores Tony's personal journey of grief, as his friends and family attempt to save the nice man they used to know.

In order to create the right feel for the six-part series, producers were keen to find the correct technology.

Martin Hawkins, Lighting Director and Director of Photography for After Life, said: "Comedy has to be the most important thing in the frame, with everything else coming after that. This series has a 'look' that we feel doesn't distract from the comedy, and a 'look' which we wanted to be disheveled, to reflect Tony's character."

Having undertaken discussions with rental company 24-7 Drama, the decision was made to film the series with two Panasonic VariCam 35, and a VariCam LT, alongside a lens package that included Zeiss Ultra primes and ARRI Alura zoom lenses, with the addition of a 12' Jib Arm and a MoVi.
The series made use of the camera's dynamic range, filming in 4K HDR. This was utilised to enhance elements such as Tony's disheveled character and his surrounding scenery, visually supporting the emotional journey depicted within the script.
Commenting on its use, Colourist Vince Narduzzo, said: "We can already see that 4K HDR is the future for the industry. In fact, there is a wider jump from HDR to 4K HDR than SD to HD. We were keen to create the perfect balance with the feature, and in the end found we had a lovely look and feel to the images, with all of the colours nicely separated. It's pretty amazing when you see it."
Mr Hawkins added: "The VariCam series is a great one to use from the point of view of speed. Even more so than usual, comedy requires a fast pace for the actors to maintain their energy on set.
"With the VariCam 35, everything is right there in front of you, and in a simple push of a button you can quickly change menu settings and no one need know anything has happened."
To edit the series, Vince Narduzzo utilised a new grading suite which was built to meet Dolby Vision certificate. This was equipped with an EIZO CG 3145 reference monitor, and a Nucoda Film Master with ACES grading system. Across the series, the AVC Ultra 422 codec was utilised. 
This was essential to create a final finish for the series, complementing the filming with a natural grain to focus the audience's attention on meaningful scenes, such as one where Tony attends his wife's graveyard.

Mr Narduzzo concluded: "We wanted a natural grain to enhance the narrative, and we were really happy with the end result of the series. This was only made possible by the equipment we utilised, and the teamwork both whilst filming and in post-production. After a lot of hard work, we are now looking forward to seeing how the series will be received."

After Life is now streaming on Netflix.

Image credit: Netflix
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